OTTAWA — Jewish groups expressed dismay after an immigration hearing for former Nazi death-squad member Helmut Oberlander was put off, the latest twist in the long-running case.
Oberlander's hearing, which could lead to his removal from Canada, was delayed until at least March 20 after the Federal Court ruled the Ontario man could have more time to prepare.
Oberlander, born in Ukraine, was a member of a Nazi death squad that operated behind the German army's front line in the eastern occupied territories during the Second World War.
It was part of a force responsible for killing more than two million people, most of them Jews.
Oberlander, who's now 96, says he was conscripted into duty as a teenager and that the penalty for desertion was execution.
Pinchas Gutter, co-president of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, urged the federal government to complete the immigration proceedings, which were slated to take place over two days this week, without further delay.
B'nai Brith Canada chief executive officer Michael Mostyn called the postponement "a tragedy and disgrace to Canada's reputation."
Oberlander served with the Ek 10a unit as an interpreter from 1941 to 1943. Living and travelling full-time with the unit, his responsibilities also included finding and protecting food and polishing boots.
Oberlander says he never participated in any killings.
The retired real-estate developer, who lives in Waterloo, Ont., arrived in Canada in 1954 and became a Canadian citizen six years later. He did not disclose his wartime experience when he applied to emigrate, upon entering Canada or when seeking citizenship.
In June 2017, the federal government revoked Oberlander’s Canadian citizenship for the fourth time since the mid 1990s.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2021.
The Canadian Press